When a writer needs a particularly obscure fact, it seems the go-to subject is the aglet, the plastic or metal tip on a shoelace that prevents fraying.
It's close friends with Antidisestablishmentarianism.
- One bank commercial on the radio used a hypothetical mom-and-pop aglet factory — and in turn heavy use of this trope — to explain how said bank wasn't too big for ANY small business!... Yeah, the housing market crash was making everyone pretty desperate (not that it was a bad ad in the end).
- Archie Comics:
- One comic had Jughead carry a bag of aglets and telling Archie about them. Veronica overhears and thinks he said 'eaglet' i.e. baby eagles. Cue her stealing the bag in the name of animal rights, only to discover what they really contain.
- Another comic contained a scene where a former prison inmate revealed he had to spend his imprisonment making "those plastic brittle things on the ends of shoelaces" instead of license plates. His sentence was actually extended because he "couldn't come up with a name for them."
- In one issue of Super Mario Bros., Toad dreams that he dreams that Mario dreams that he dreams that he dreams (and that's revealed after four more layers, folks!) that the Princess was being forced to listen to two Fryguys debate about the name for these things. (He tries a few guesses himself, none correct.)
- A segment in an Avengers Annual showing Andy Rooney's fictitious commentary on the Terminus saga and other recent major Marvel Universe events showed him playing the footage of a segment he was going to do about aglets when the power went out all over the world.
- In the 1990 Leslie Nielsen comedy Repossessed, one character (played by Linda Blair) is named Nancy Aglet.
Frieda: What does the name "Aglet" mean anyway?
Braydon: Well, a long time ago "Aglet" meant "He who puts those tiny little plastic things on shoelaces".
- According to the 1988 Tom Cruise film Cocktail, aglets are actually known as "fluglebinders."
- The eponymous cat from The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents knows that the rat catchers in town aren't catching rats because the "rat tails" they show to people have aglets on them, revealing them to be shoelaces.
- In Don DeLillo's novel "Underworld", Father Paulus teaches young Shay to name all the parts of a shoe.
"Yes. And the metal sheath at each end of the lace." He flicked the thing with his middle finger.
"This I don't know in a million years."
"Not in a million years."
"The tag or aglet."
"The aglet," I said.
- In the Saturday Night Live sketch "Stand-Up & Win" (a game show hosted by Jerry Seinfeld where all the contestants are stand-up comedians competing in who can give the snarkiest answers to quiz questions), the grand prize of the night is revealed to be aglets:
Announcer: Get a year's supply of those things that are at the end of your shoelaces! What are those things? They don't have a name!
- In one episode of The Suite Life of Zack & Cody, Maddie helps London fight her shopping addiction by holding on to all her credit cards. At one point, London asks for the cards back, saying that she's just going to buy something small, like a pair of shoes, or only one shoe, or "That little piece of plastic at the end of the shoelace that nobody knows what it's called." To which Maddie instantly replies, "You mean an aglet?"
- In Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., at the end of the episode "Repairs" most of Coulson's team is shown playing UpWords. Simmons makes the word "aglet", which leads to an argument about whether it's a real word, settled when Skye looks it up online.
Ward: That isn't a word in our language. I've never heard of it.
Skye: I'm checking.
Simmons: Our language? You mean the English language, first spoken in England?
Skye: "Aglet... a plastic or metal tube covering the end of a shoelace."
Coulson: Oh, come on.
Ward: She used her Britishness against us.
Simmons: It's a word.
- City of Heroes has a Item Crafting material known as "Conspiratorial Evidence", with the flavor text reading "Who knew that the simple aglet's true purpose was so sinister?". Doubles as a Shout-Out to Justice League Unlimited.
- Sam and Max use them as one of Sammunmak's myriad "most despised/cherished items" in the "They Stole Max's Brain!" episode of Sam & Max: The Devil's Playhouse.
- An Aglet is one of the available equipable accessories in Terraria, providing a small speed boost when equipped. It's also an essential component for the Lightning Boots and their upgrades.
- The "Buying Clothes" episode of TheOdd1sOut mentioned that James was once told he wasn't supposed to actually tie the laces of his thick-tongued shoes, so to keep them from dangling on the ground he tucked them inside, causing him to be constantly stepping on the sharp aglets. At this point the definition of "aglets" pops up on screen.
- According to Achewood, Aglets are a key ingredient in the cocktail drug "fool's meth."
- One sushi-etiquette site points out that the small piece of plastic that looks like fake grass that comes with sushi is called "haran," or "baran." Then it adds: "Of course, knowing the name for it is like knowing that the plastic tips on the end of your shoelaces are called aglets."
- The subject of the "Tip of the Day" episode of Phineas and Ferb. The boys even went so far as to hold an awareness concert just for people to remember its real name. A-G-L-E-T (aglet!) Don't forget it! And in true ironic Contrived Coincidence form that the show loves so much, the entire Tri-State Area gets hit by a Erase-What-Is-On-My-Mind-Inator which makes them all forget what it is. Except Candace, who never bothered trying to remember the name.
- Justice League Unlimited: During an Electric Torture sequence, The Question resisted interrogation by only revealing random useless facts, such as the name for those little plastic caps at the end of a shoelace. He then added on, "Their true purpose is sinister." He might have been serious, and might be right.
- In the "The Pinky And The Brain Reunion Special" episode of Pinky and the Brain, The Brain attempts to use a television broadcast as a means of mass Mind Control; he chooses a particularly slow television night on which to enact this scheme, secure in the knowledge that people will watch his program (since the only other things on TV are a Homeboys in Outer Space rerun, an arena football game, and a boring documentary about shoelaces). After much suffering, he manages in the nick of time to broadcast his mind-control signal...only to have Pinky remark that he just learned what "aglets" are, meaning that Pinky (and by implication, the rest of the viewing public) was watching the documentary about shoelaces.
Brain: (Half crazed) Ha ha! Aglets! You don't say. Ha ha. Imagine that. Aglets. (Growing angry) Aglets! (Shouting) AGLETS! (Passes out in disbelief)
Pinky: Well, you can call them 'Thingies' if you really want to.
- In the "Shake, Rattle and Roll Over" episode of Dave the Barbarian, the eponymous character and his friends and family are being held against the wall by magic. "Dave, do something!" "I am...I'm trying to remember what the thing on the end of a shoelace is called, an argle?" When they are let go, but still against the wall, he suddenly remembers something. "That the thing on the end of a shoelace is called an aglet?" "No, that gravity makes things fall."
- Shows up as a question in a quiz show that Maya & Miguel are watching.
- In The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius, Beautiful Gorgeous' lifelong dream is to make these.
- In The Simpsons episode "Bart vs. Lisa vs. The Third Grade", after Bart and Lisa get lost in the outskirts of Capital City, Marge manages to find a clue: an aglet from one of Bart's shoelaces. Homer visibly dismisses this, to which Marge replies "A mother knows!"
- In The Adventures of Puss in Boots, this comes up in Puss' increasingly bad answers to the Sphinx's riddles.
Sphinx: "I am always hungry and must be fed, the finger I touch will soon turn red", what am I?
Puss: That...that little thing on the end of a shoelace! [gestures to his boots] The thing!!
Sphinx: An aglet?
Sphinx: No, it's fire.